Pop a Top
Darwin, staying true to his usual happy-go-lucky, optimistic style, predicted the newel post would be completely empty.
In my usual style, I desperately hoped it would be packed to the brim with historical artifacts that would spew out around us like so much beer foam once the newel post cap was released.
Also in my usual style, out loud I pretended to expect it to be empty in a totally inadequate attempt to prevent my hopes from being crushed beneath the muddy boot heel of disappointment.
You could've cut the tension in the room with a smoking chainsaw as Darwin worked to pry off the cap. First he had to pry up the wood trim, which did not want to be pried. I danced around yelping, "Don't break it!" and "It's cracking!" while Darwin generously did not murder me.
When the cap finally came off, we peered down into a dark, seemingly empty cavern.
"Nothing, just like I thought," said Darwin, much too smugly for my taste.
"Go get the flashlight!" said I and aimed my camera lens into the depths.
The first thing that caught my camera's eye was a string tied to a nail a few inches into the newel post. I gently pulled on the string, my belly knotted with anticipation. I hauled it up and up and up until ... nothing. Nothing was tied to the string, though a mysterious loop remained.
By then Darwin was back and theorized that the string, with its loop, might've been tied around the deed or some other paperwork, so that it could be hauled up out of the post when needed. But apparently at some point in the past, it was needed and now the paper was gone!
Just picture that muddy boot heel grinding down on my chest right about now. I think it was worse knowing that something was once there. Something - but what? - might still be out there in the world - but where?
I managed to crawl out from under the boot heel to zoom down for a closer look at the debris lying at the bottom of the newel post. I took a few photos and then loaded them onto my computer for closer examination.
Among the meager scattering of items, we recognized two dominoes, a few peanut shells, a fish hook and a couple of nails. The rest is still up for debate. Of particular curiosity to me is the object in the third picture. The shape seems familiar ... anyone know what it is?
In the end we decided none of this stuff was worth extracting from the newel post. It serves the house better sitting down there where it was dropped who knows how long ago, who knows why and who knows how?